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Robert Campbell

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About Robert Campbell

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    Junior Member

Previous Fields

  • Country
    United States
  • State (US/Canadian)
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  • Real Name
    Robert Campbell
  • Copyright
    Must Attribute
  • Biography/Intro
    I'm a professor of psychology at Clemson University, Editor of New Ideas in Psychology, Associate Editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and webmaster for the Red Saunders Research Foundation.
  • Experience with Objectivism
    Since 1968. I have read all of Ayn Rand's books, Chris Sciabarra's Russian Radical, Leonard Peikoff's Ominous Parallels and OPAR, David Kelley's Evidence of the Senses, Tara Smith's book on Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, most of Nathaniel Branden's books, and much other related material.
  • School or University
    Clemson University
  • Occupation
    psychology, music history
  1. Nicky, Have you read what is under discussion here: Leonard Peikoff's book Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand? Could it be that you've found Dr. Peikoff's book "long and pointless"? Robert Campbell
  2. Plasmatic, Here are a couple of things I've written about the importance of emergence and its relevance to conceptions of knowledge. Campbell, R. L., & Bickhard, M. H. (1987). A deconstruction of Fodor's anticonstructivism. Human Development, 30, 48-59. Campbell, R. L. (1998). Representation by correspondence: An inadequate conception of knowledge for artificial systems. In G. Antoniou & J. Slaney (Eds.), Advanced topics in artificial intelligence (pp. 15-26). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. I don't currently have PDFs for these on my website. But it's time I did some upgrading.
  3. Plasmatic, My issues with foundationalism are rather different from any of those raised by Karl Popper. Mainly, they have to do with the metaphysics, or ontology, of knowledge and of mental processes. In particular, with whether knowledge is an irreducible primary, or something that emerges. Psychological ontology is not a well explored topic in Objectivist writings. Objectivism isn't dualistic. Various Objectivist writings reject eliminative reductionism and epiphenomenalism. After those are ruled out, it isn't clear whether there is a specific Objectivist position on the subject
  4. I took Leonard Peikoff not to be saying not just that the assertion is deliberate, but that its arbitrariness is deliberate. In other words, that in every case the asserter either knows that the assertion is arbitrary—or is acting in reckless disregard of such knowledge. Robert Campbell
  5. Leonard Peikoff does occasionally refer to a person who says "you can't disprove it" or "it's beyond mere human comprehension." In my article I call this procedure mystification (see pp. 118-119). I think we can see why mystification is objectionable without needing to bring in the rest of Dr. Peikoff's apparatus. And in calling arbitrary assertions "brazen," he is implying that every arbitrary assertion is produced deliberately, whether it is accompanied by mystifying commentary or not. Robert Campbell
  6. See my two previous comments, Nicky. Meanwhile, you have yet to bring anything to this discussion except arguments from intimidation. Robert Campbell
  7. Bingo. In fact, those who adhere to Ayn Rand's prohibition on psychologizing should, if they are consistent, refrain from identifying any assertion as arbitrary, if their basis for so identifying it is any purported diagnosis of the asserter's thought processes. Although I questioned in my article how Leonard Peikoff could know that every arbitrary assertion is "brazen" and so forth, and I asked whether he would be guilty, by his own lights, of gross "psychologizing" (see p. 130), I didn't take it further because the notion of psychologizing raises its own difficulties—and I plan to writ
  8. So far as I know, Ayn Rand considered "Jesus Christ is the son of God and savior of the world" to be a false statement. Whether she considered it an arbitrary assertion in Leonard Peikoff's sense, I have no idea. Nathaniel Branden was on record, in lectures and in his 1963 article, to the effect that this statement is false, and is asserted arbitrarily. With Leonard Peikoff, take your pick. If you follow the reasoning presented in Chapter 1 of OPAR, you will conclude that the statement is false because it contradicts metaphysical axioms. If you accept the positions taken in Chapter
  9. The problems that Mr. Boydstun raises are real, and one of the proposed solutions is that propositions on the order of "The King of Texas drives a Cadillac" are neither true nor false. But they don't much overlap with the problems that Dr. Peikoff has aimed to solve with his doctrine. Some arbitrary assertions à la Pekoff are of propositions whose subjects fail to refer to anything real; e.g., "Gremlins are holding a conference on Venus." But none of Peikoff's treatments of the arbitrary that I have been able to locate ever mention cases like "The King of Texas drives a Cadillac." Pe
  10. Right. In Leonard Peikoff's presentation, an arbitrary assertion is not the same as an assertion that includes an invalid concept. It is also not the same as the assertion of a statement accepted on faith. In Nathaniel Branden's formulation (published in 1963, probably dating from the late 1950s), there was a tighter link between arbitrary assertions and appeals to faith. But Dr. Branden also thought that arbitrary assertions have a truth value (usually, they are false). Robert Campbell
  11. It is evident that I have not been complying with Mr. Boydstun's agenda. Mr. Boydstun wants nothing to do with any substantive criticism of Objectivist writings, unless he was the author of it. Except for Mr. Boydstun, no one engages in substantive criticism; everyone is merely "belittling" and "running down." Mr. Boydstun further wants to pretend, in the face of considerable contrary evidence, that infighting in Rand-land proceeds no differently from infighting in most other places. He would like us all to believe that the infighters do no harm; only those who call them out on their b
  12. Ayn Rand had a name for this sort of thing. It's an argument from intimidation. If you want to contribute to the present discussion, make an effort to produce a real argument. Robert Campbell
  13. Very early in his career, Karl Popper tried to develop a theory of what we now call cognitive psychology. It was a failure—at least Popper quickly came to view it as such. (The last time I checked, his thesis on the subject had still not been translated into English. I don't read or speak German, so I'm not in a position to evaluate it.) That is the most plausible basis for his occasional polemics against "psychologism." What, precisely, is the connection between Popper's anti-psychological views and his claim that a testable universal hypothesis need not be highly probable? Robert
  14. Two difficulties here. (1) It's not the doctrine of the arbitrary proposition—it's the doctrine of the arbitrary assertion. Arbitrariness is said to depend not merely on the proposition being asserted but on the person making the assertion. According to Dr. Peikoff, if you or I, knowing what we do of mathematics, assert the proposition "2 + 2 = 4," we assert it non-arbitrarily, and truly. But if a "savage," who, according to Dr. Peikoff, knows nothing whatsoever of mathematics, asserts what appears to be the exact same proposition, its assertion by him or her is arbitrary. (2) M
  15. Mnrchst, Here's a very quick answer: the doctrine of the arbitrary is internally inconsistent in several different ways, and Peikoff claims that all kinds of dire consequences flow from arbitrariness, while offering no clear criteria that a person could use to reliably identify it. Slightly less quick answer: An arbitrary assertion is supposed to be one that has been put forward without any evidence to support it. But Dr. Peikoff has never laid out much in the way of criteria of evidence, either in OPAR or elsehwere. And if you don't have a clear idea as to what constitutes evid
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